Monday, March 31, 2008

The Flat Master

My Poprad is the king of flat tires. Never in my cycling life have I had a bike that pffffffts as much as this one. It was about time I got to the bottom of this perpetual flattening.

I've had the bike since early December, and I'm on tube number 10. That's a bad number. The flats always seem to happen on the trail, miles from nowhere, at night, and when it's cold, windy, raining, or all of the above.

The tube I yanked out was an easy boo-boo to spot. 18/23c road tubes don't last long when ridden hard off road in 34c cyclocross tyres. So the first step was to dig the appropriately sized tube from my stash.
The next step was to go over every square inch of the inside of the tyre for any type of thorn or piece of metal that could be responsible for repeat flats. I became intimately acquainted with the backside of this Bontrager Jones cxr. And my fine toothed comb yielded...nuthin'. Not a hint of anything that could have caused a flat. This was to be a process of elimination exercise, and I eliminated the tyre as the source of my troubles.

So a thorough exam of the rim and rim strip followed. No burrs, splinters, shrapnel or raised welds that could puncture my tubes. So I sat there, scratching my head trying to think about how I would go flat if I were a tube. That tought didn't do anything except make me feel bloated.
Could it be possible that I have had a combination of bad luck and a really bad bunch of tubes? I haven't kept track of what brands that I had used, so I would just graba new box from the shelf, pump her up to about 75 psi, and see what happens.

I was pretty sure that what I was about to put in there was dfferent than what I had used previously because I didn't recognize the threadness chrome valve stems. Interesting.

A few minuted later the tube was installed and fully over-inflated to 80psi to ensure the bead would seat well. I picked up the wheel for a visual inspection of the bead and...

The son of a b$%#ing crap load of monkey dung was hissing at me, mocking me to my face! Lousy sack of vile body fluids! Miserable useless elephant fecal matter soaked in rotten toe cheese juice!

I give up. I grabbed a DIFFERENT BRAND of tube, installed it and cranked 'er up to 80psi. No it's a waiting game. Will it be flat by morning?
Monkey dung.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A trail is (re)born

I've been riding the awesome trails at Carvin's Cove for over 10 years now. One of my favorites, because of the technical challenge and outright beauty, is Hemlock Tunnel. (The trail formerly known as Clownhead). I love the steep start through the wide-open hardwood forest, then how it narrows into a chute of rhododendrons. The trouble with this trail has always been that it holds leaves like no other trail in the park. For years I was convinced that the steepest section was nothing more than a deep rut covered in two feet of leaves.

When Skippy laid plans to have a work day to rake Hemlock Tunnel, I was absolutely going to be there to help. The opportunity to expose the ditch in order to convince everyone that it needs to be re-routed was in the front of my mind.

After the ten or so trail volunteers made our way down the first few switchbacks onto the steep section, what we found beneath surprised us all. The trail wasn't the least bit rutted. In fact, the trail bed was solid and quite wide. All those years of bouncing down the trail, staying to the far right to avoid the chasm beneath the leaves was for not! This section is awesome! My only regret was that I elected to leave my bike at home. I can't wait to go ride it!

After an hour or so removing several metric tons of leaves from a long stretch of HT, we decided that we'd try to clear as much of the currently closed Araminta trail. Most folks I know, present company included, have only ridden this trail once or twice while it was open. I had heard many stories of riders getting lost trying to find their way through to it's end on the wickedly steep Kerncliff Trail. Skippy also tried in vain recently to find his way onto Araminta from the Kerncliff end, only to have to backtrack up and over two hugely steep fire road climbs strewn with loose rock. No fun.

So when we began clearing the section that intersects Hemlock Tunnel, I thought we were in for smooth sailing. We had rakes ferociously clearing leaves revealing more and more trail every few minutes. We were on it, baby!

Then across a creek, it was gone. No sign of anything that even remotely resembled a trail bed. I know it used to lead somewhere. I had ridden it all the way to Kerncliff before. We'll need to consult the all-knowning trailmaster (aka Snuggletruck) on this one. He'll know where it picks up. So my knobby-tired friends, Araminta isn't open yet. We'll get there eventually. As you can see in the picture above, we need some chainsaw work on the trail. As always, your help is greatly appreciated. Go to to sign up to do some trail work.

Then after all that hard work yesterday, I was looking forward to a nice long ride at Arcadia today. The weather had other plans. March is silly. In like a lamb, out like lion this year. See ya on the trail!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth, Wind and Fire

Everyone is happy to be riding at Carvin's Cove again after the wild fires and wind damage closed these great trails for about a month.

There are more trees down than standing on the Enchanted Forest trail.

This area looks like a tornado cut down these trees.

Although fire was all around them, all of the new trail signs survived.

The scorched Earth along the top of Brushy Mountain is jaw dropping in scope.

I don't hold much hope for the trees up there either. Now the long healing process begins...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Carvins Cove reopens!!!!

Extensive trail work is ongoing at Carvins Cove Natural Reserve.Volunteers from the VAST Network have logged nearly 100 hours over the past10 days repairing a large majority of the damaged sustained earlier thismonth. Representatives from the Virginia Department of Forestry have alsoperformed mitigation work on select trails and the Brushy Mountain FireRoad. With that said, the trails at Carvins Cove are now open to thepublic with the following exceptions:Happy Valley Fire Road (from Schoolhouse to the Boat Dock parking lot)TroughGauntletAramintaKerncliff (from Hemlock Tunnel to Araminta)Sawmill BranchWork on these trails will continue over the next few weeks. Patrons arereminded to always take proper precautions when using the Carvins Covetrails. Those interested in assisting with the volunteer effort shouldvisit more information, please contact Michael Clark, RecreationSuperintendent at 540.853.1198.

Monday, March 24, 2008

10 Things to do on your next ride

10. Ride a trail or road you've never been on before.

9. Take a friend that you've never ridden with.

8. Leave your MP3 player at home and sing aloud.

7. Stop for a cup of coffee at a local coffee house during your ride.

6. Be nice to motorists who are not nice to you.

5. Ride single file.

4. Half way into the ride, pull a burrito wrapped in foil from your jersey pocket and ask your riding buddy if they would like some.

3. Race a kid and let him win.

2. Don't drop the hammer. Not even a little bit.

1. Smile

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Around town

When I realized that I had this past Friday off, I immediately allocated some time for a nice long ride. Several possibilities surfaced. First, I thought about doing a killer "Ironcross" type training ride up and over Ft. Lewis and Poor mountains. Unfortunately, no one else's schedule matched mine, and I wasn't too keen on doing that kind of ride alone. Next, I thought maybe a singlespeed epic of some sort would materialize, but again I wasn't fond of 4 hours alone in the woods.

Last year around this time, I did a ride where I strung together all of the Roanoke Valley Greenways. It was a blast. It was also sort of a personal "State of the Greenways" exercise where I could get a picture of the entire system and how it was progressing. A year ago the ride took me five hours on my mountain bike, and was about 65 miles total. I wish that all of those miles were on greenways, but truth be told about 2/3 were road miles necessary to get from one greenway to the next. Now in 2008, more greenway miles have materialized and the overall loop would be even longer. I only wanted to do 4 hours, so my plan was to link together as many greenways as I could in that time.

I used my cyclocross bike this time around for a couple of reasons: It's perfect for the the varying surfaces that I would encounter, and it's the only bike I own with gears on it.

Friday morning came with a scheduled visit from a home appraiser to get the final steps on the sale of our house rolling. Turns out his wife was a realtor who had some clients from Colorado who are looking to relocate to Roanoke and are interested in learning about places to ride. I hope they read this post. I pointed him in the direction of the RCO website and a few blogs, then it was out the door right on schedule at 9am.

Very shortly after leaving the house, I hung a left on the recently completed Murray Run Greenway. A cinder surface allowed my cx tires to go to work immediately.

Soon after it starts, Murray Run turns into a fun, fairly wide trail.

Once I crossed over Brambleton Ave into Fishburn park, it was back to cinders.

After stringing together some alleys and side streets, I arrived at Garst Mill Park. The short greenway there runs along a very nice babbling brook. (And you though only I babbled!)

Then came a health dose of road miles to get to the oldest section (I think) of the Roanoke River Greenway that runs past Moyer Sports Complex in Salem.

A few more road miles, then onto the newest section of the RRG in Green Hill Park. This circular terminus will be as far as she goes...for now.

The fresh, silky smooth pavement is already teaming with walkers and joggers...although I failed to catch any in the picture. Trust me, when it's warm outside, they are everywhere.

A trip up West Main Street in Salem eventually led me to the Hanging Rock Battlefield trail. This is one of my favorites. Riding towards Hanging Rock definitely gives you the feeling of getting out of town.

Eventually after (you guessed it) more road miles, I rode the Lick Run Greenway into downtown Roanoke. This stretch along an old canal beside the Roanoke Civic Center is very well done. It has a very old-world feel, yet a modern vibe. (Deep, eh?)

I took a break at the observation area of the newly renovated MLK bridge to watch the trains roll through downtown. I live in a very cool city.

After navigating through Vinton on some more side streets, I headed out the Hardy Road bike lane onto the Wolf Creek Greenway. This is where the entire road was re-routed to make way for the greenway.
Since I was nearing my allotted time, I headed home via the Tinker Creek and Roanoke River Greenways, but neglected to snap any more pics. You'll have to get out and ride all of these for yourself! I never did ride the Mill Mountain Greenway, and still logged 60 miles in 4 hours 15 minutes.
The greenways are growing! Get out and ride 'em!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I think Pookie and I might have a hoarding problem. We have multiples of multiple things. Cycling helmets, cycling shoes, Team El Toreo jerseys, cycling bottles. I really think we may need help.

Now that I think of it, I might just has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Whew, I had myself worried there for a minute!

Remember, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not really after you!

Monday, March 17, 2008


When Sunday's news about 7 separate small fires being battled on Mill Mountain came out, I was quite upset that another of Roanoke's favorite MTB spots could have possibly sustained some damage. When I heard that fire officials suspected arson, I was pissed off. I'm with Jen on this one; what kind of moron ass monkey sets fire in a public park? So help me God if I ever run across someone while I'm out riding that is trying to start a fire in the woods. I know that you shouldn't take the law into your own hands, but that person would not make it out of there without a good smack down. Butthead. I hope they catch the idiot that did it and throw the book at him. Reckless endangerment. Moron.
Last month's Carvin's Cove fire as seen from Mill Mountain

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We talkin' 'bout practice

Training is hard. Training for the Dragon's Back race is harder. Training to race a singlespeed at Dragon's Back is stupid. I love training. (aka bike practice)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

New house VS mountaincross race


A few weeks back I had the opportunity to race in MXFCP #1 in Bedford. (That's Mountaincross at Falling Creek Park) It was a blast and I felt like I raced really well. Ever since then I've been looking forward to MXFCP #2. But, since we just bought a new house (insert elevated stress level here) I had to skip #2 to complete some tasks around the old house before the home inspector arrives Monday.

Our house sold in exactly 30 days. We were able to remove the contingency clause on the new house this week. I spent a couple hours in the new place with the home inspector and was very pleased with the outcome. It will be nice to have room for all of our friends when we have shindigs. Good stuff.

But, the downside is that a lot of my time, at least until April when we move in, will be wrapped up in packing, transporting and unpacking stuff. I also have a fair amount of mini-projects that we want to do at the new place right away. Things like fences, range hoods, bathroom exhaust fans - just enough to eat up some training time. I'll find a way to make due. Don't get me wrong, I'm super excited. I'll just be glad when we're all settled.

I'll still squeeze in a couple hours on the bike today before the rain arrives. (Fingers are crossed)

Friday, March 14, 2008


Chris' bike sports this fancy cable end. Plug it in after the ride and you can use the whole bike as a light bulb.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Thursday. Explore Park. My legs felt like I had knives stuck in them. Big, sharp knives. Why did I start running again? To feel more pain?

For the entire ride, I had "Thou Shalt Always Kill" by Scroobius Pip stuck in my head. It's still there. It's won't go away.

It's almost like having knives in my legs and in my brain. I need to sleep now.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I thought this little section of trail at Fishburn Park had a cool tunnel effect to it. With all of the wind we've had this year, the chainsaws have been busy. I like that the fallen trees have been left to form a roof over the trail. I don't think it will stay like this for very long. It will become more of a safety hazard as gravity tugs the trees to the ground a bit more every day. I've ridden ths section at night and it really feels like the trail is closing in on you. Freaky.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The brutality that is the Dragon's Back race is less than a month away. The two mile climb (that I'll have to do twice) is not rideable on the singlespeed. I will be running. Or jogging. Or walking. Or limping.

My muscles need to be ready to do a lot of work off the bike. I feel that my fitness is good, but a short 30 minute trail run this evening (mostly uphill) revealed that running technique needs some work. Uphill explosiveness on foot will be a must. The ability to go way beyond my lactic threshold and recover while still going uphill will be paramount.

So, uphill running drills will be working their way into my weekly routine - at least for the next month.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Don't worry, she's OK!

After posting a pic of our pathetic canine child yesterday with a bandaged leg, the calls, letters, emails and visits from friends, clergy and concerned strangers from afar came pouring in. Fear not, she is uninjured - other than a self-inflicted bare spot on her right leg.

Several times a year she seems to get into these patterns of strange behavior. Obsessive/compulsive grooming is one of them. But, she concentrates on one spot and licks and crews it raw. We wrapped her leg to keep her from gnawing on it. The duct tape acts as an unattractive coating over the soft, crewy bandages beneath. It's healing nicely and all should be back to normal soon.

Just as suddenly as it began, it will end. Wierd dog.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Yep, it's duct tape.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

2008 Singlespeed Massacre

I never thought I'd see the day, but it is official: The Dragon's Back race in Craig County will for the very first time have a singlespeed catagory. I don't know if I should laugh or cry. This is one of the hardest places around to ride a geared bike. Racing this monster on a SS will be monumental. Other-worldly. Hor catagorie'. Unbelievably f**cking hard.

But I gotta tell ya, I'm really looking forward to it. I like the chance to prove to myself that I can do things I know to be impossible. (That really doest make any sense, but I know what I meant - I just don't know if anyone will get it.)

Regardless, this will be the region's hardest singlespeed course...guaranteed.

Turn right off of RT-311 to make your way to the slaughter.

Deep leaves, impossibly steep sidehill, endless rock gardens = 18 miles of pure hell.

Can't wait!!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Red Stripe

Wind burn. Perhaps a mild case of frost bite. 50 degrees felt warm when I left the house at 5:45pm. "It's too warm for full leg warmers. I'll be fine with only knee warmers."

Wrong. 40 degrees was much colder than expected at 8pm with the help of the stiff breeze.

Remember this photo. This is what my spring tan lines will look like also.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wash out

For the second week in a row, my "Two Hour Tuesday" ride has been hampered by wet weather. Hampered isn't the right word. Hampered means to make more difficult. I just flat out couldn't ride. Torrential rains and 40 mph winds are not what I classify as good riding weather. It was a balmy 67 degrees, however.

So again this week my training is a bit scattered, but workable.

Saturday: 2 hrs+
Sunday: 2 hrs+
Monday: Nuthin'
Tuesday: Nuthin'
Wednesday: 2 hrs+
Thursday: 1 1/2 hrs
Friday: Nuthin'

With the house on the market, we weren't able to get in a longer weekend ride. I would have like to do 4 hrs on Saturday or Sunday, but it just wasn't in the cards.

This Saturday will be Mountaincross #2 at Falling Creek Park in Bedford. Should be loads of fun and a really good (albeit short) workout. Then Sunday Pookie and I will play a little golf.

It's kinda hard going into a rest week without feeling the need to rest, but I'm gonna stick with the 3 weeks on, 1 week off pattern for a bit. It seems to be working well. I'm riding strong and I feel good, so I'm not gonna mess with it. Besides, my first important race isn't until May.

Now I'll drift off to sleep to the welcome sound of steady rain. Be gone, drought!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

How old are we?

So some of the usual suspects assemble for a fun ride at Fishburn Park. After some singletrack which included some nice roots and rocks (Man, it sure is nice to have something this cool this close to my house) we ended up on the campus of Virginia Western Community College. Like a bunch of 10 year olds we started riding up and down the steep, man-made slopes just for the heck of it. Passers by must have thought we were nuts. Let's see...Donnie is the youngest of the crew, still in his early twenties. The rest of us are very, very close (or over) fourty. Regression. I'm blaming it on the stress that our society has put on us, that's why we're acting like kids.

Honestly, I think we all act like kids when we're together because it's fun. I feel sorry for the people my age who take everything so seriously that they have forgotten how to have fun.

So we found a couple big hills and all rode down them giggling like little kids. Then we'd turn around and do it again, and again, and again...

The hardest part was riding back up. A bunch of us were on singlespeeds, and it really hurt when we got to about the 9th trip back up the hill.

So we acted like little kids (again). Laughing and having a great time. Not to mention, this was one hell of a workout. I call 'em Steep Climb and Decend Giggle Intervals. I'm adding them to my training regimine.